Dominique Strauss-Kahn broke his silence on French TV on Sunday in a kiss-and-tell interview admitting to “an inappropriate relationship” with a midtown hotel maid, but rebuffing allegations he attacked and raped her.
"It was a moral failure,” said Strauss-Kahn, 62, who maintains that the sexual contact he had with Nafissatou Diallo was consensual. “I have regretted it every day for the last four months, and I am not done regretting it."
“Everything she said is a lie,” he added.
The 33-year-old Guinean immigrant claims he assaulted her on May 14 and forced her to perform oral sex after she went inside his Sofitel hotel room to clean it. Strauss-Kahn was swiftly arrested, garnering worldwide attention because of his prominent position as head of the IMF and potential presidential candidacy in his native France.
Yesterday’s interview on France’s TF1 channel was the first time Strauss-Kahn has answered questions publicly since his arrest. The criminal case against him, led by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., crumbled last month because of conflicting statements made by Diallo and the realization that Vance's office couldn’t prove any sexual contact was forced.
“What happened did not include violence, nor coercion, nor aggression, nor any criminal act,” Strauss-Kahn said Sunday, as protesters reportedly held signs outside the TV studio proclaiming, “No Means No.”
If anyone was expecting a detailed description about the hotel encounter from Strauss-Kahn, he didn’t deliver. Observers described his appearance as a “softball interview” with Claire Chazal, who is also friendly with Strauss-Kahn’s wife, journalist Anne Sinclair.
It’s what Strauss-Kahn “failed to say [during the interview] that’s important,” Diallo’s attorney, Kenneth Thompson, told amNewYork.
“If he did not sexually assault her, why is he afraid to say what happened?” Thompson asked.
The philandering Frenchman also faces another rape case in his homeland. Tristane Banon, a 32-year-old-journalist, has accused him of trying to sexually assault her in 2003. He said during Sunday’s interview he was already questioned by police.
“I told the truth about this meeting – there was not a single aggressive act,” he said.
There is still a civil suit pending in the Bronx against Strauss-Kahn by Diallo seeking unspecified damages.
A judge last week has given Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys until Sept. 26 to respond to the complaint.
While Strauss-Kahn remains in France, a civil trial could force him to come back to New York to testify.
“He certainly can afford to settle his case instead, but does he want to?” asked Matthew Galluzzo, a former Manhattan sex-crimes prosecutor. “When you settle, a lot of people perceive it to be an admission, although it’s not.”
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Strauss-Kahn on TF1 (French TV)
“The charges were dropped because there was no reason to continue, because there was no case to answer.”
“I was very scared. When you are caught in this machine, you have the feeling that I was trampled upon before being able to say a word. I lost a great deal in this affair.”
“Au contraire. I respect women.”